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Torn-Down Tuesday: Delaware Avenue, north of City Hall

Shot in 1962, probably out a window in the Statler Hotel, this view of Delaware Avenue has evolved slowly but changed drastically through the last 54 years, essentially creating a new gateway to Buffalo's City Hall and Niagara Square.

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Buffalo News archives

The building we see the front and center still stands with some changes. It was built as the Federal Reserve Bank in 1955, and it remained so until it became the headquarters for New Era Cap in 2006. The most substantial change came in the years immediately after the photo was taken, when the block of 19th-century mansions was cleared for the building of what would become the Thaddeus Dulski Federal Building, now known as the Avant.

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The most remembered and revered building on that block was, in 1962, the Normandy Restaurant — one of Buffalo’s more swank dining spots.

It was built by Dr. Walter Cary in 1851. Cary was one of Buffalo’s cultural elite, and for more than a century, his home was considered one of Buffalo’s finest. It was also the boyhood home of Dr. Cary’s son George, one of Buffalo’s leading architects at the turn of the century. He designed what is now the Buffalo History Museum for the Pan-Am Exposition, the Pierce-Arrow building on Elmwood and the gates and offices of Forest Lawn Cemetery, among others.

These few blocks saw many of Buffalo’s elite diners during this era.

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The Normandy is front and center, but across the street and out of view was Foster’s Supper Club. At the very bottom of the photo is the Chateau Restaurant, which lives on in the ghost sign still visible on the side of the only 19th-century home that still stands on that part of Delaware Avenue.

The Chateau offered a “Choice of 25 entrees,” and it painted the offer on the building’s brick façade. The words “Choice of 25” are clearly legible today. Later, as the Roundtable Restaurant, the building at 153 Delaware Ave. served as the venue from which shipping magnate and restaurant co-owner George Steinbrenner announced that he was purchasing the New York Yankees.

Toward the top of the photo, we see a corner that has undergone massive changes in the last 15 years.

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The Hotel Richford, previously known as the Hotel Ford, was torn down in 2000 to make way for the Hampton Inn & Suites on the corner of Delaware and Chippewa. Just past Chippewa is the Delaware Court Building, which was torn down in 2014 to make way for the 12-story headquarters of Delaware North.

The northwest corner of Delaware and Chippewa was once the southeast corner of Dr. Ebenezer Johnson’s large estate. He was Buffalo’s first mayor in 1832, and his home, at the time, was on the rural outskirts of the city.  A home built by Philander Hodge on that corner in 1835, which later served as the home of the Buffalo Club, was torn down to make way for the Delaware Court Building in 1913.

 

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